Diana M. Pho

Story Producer at Realm

My Manuscript Wish List

[updated May 2021]

I am currently only taking agented submissions, but bookmark this space for updates on the submissions process.

About Me: [she/her] I am a Hugo Award-nominated developmental editor, public speaker, and all-around nerd, specializing in audio, narrative, and sequential storytelling. I’m a former editor at Tom Doherty Associates (Tor Books, Tor Teen, Starscape & Tor.com Publishing). I now work as Story Producer at Realm, acquiring and developing cutting-edge science fiction,  fantasy, and horror podcast shows.

I've had the pleasure of working with a wide range of talented authors, including Robyn Bennis, Alex Bledsoe, P. Djèlí Clark, Marie Miranda Cruz, Lara Elena Donnelly, K. A. Doore, Margaret Killjoy, Bethany C. Morrow, Ilana C. Myer, Ferrett Steinmetz, Alison Wilgus, and many others. I also worked with the best-selling The Wheel of Time® series and George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards universe.

Books I've edited have won the Thriller Award (A.J. Hartley’s Steeplejack, for Best Young Adult), the Ditmar Award (Thoraiya Dyer’s Crossroads of Canopy, for Best Novel), the American Library Association’s Alex Award (P. Djeli Clark’s The Black God’s Drums), and a Kirkus Best Book of the Year Selection (Marie Miranda Cruz’s Everlasting Nora , for Middle Grade). Several books have earned Junior Library Guild Selections, multiple starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, School Library Journal, Shelf Awareness, and Kirkus, and are finalists for the Nebula Award, Lambda Literary Award, Shirley Jackson Award, and Andre Norton Award for Young Adult.

I'm also a four-time Hugo Award finalist for Best Editor, Long-Form, one of the most prestigious honors in the field of speculative fiction.

About Realm:

Realm is the audio entertainment company that creates original fiction podcasts and audiobook series, including official continuations of popular franchises. Based in New York, LA and beyond, Realm collaborates with bestselling and award-winning writers, directors, artists, and actors from film/tv, animation, publishing, and gaming to create expansive, diverse, and immersive shows.

Realm was co-founded by former Penguin Random House executive Molly Barton and former Obama Administration Dept of Justice lawyer Julian Yap. Realm shows are available as podcasts everywhere, and on their own app, awarded “Best of the Year” by Apple.

To best fit into Realm's episodic format, I'm especially looking for fiction that can be read in bite-sized chapters or broken up into listening episodes of similar length.

What I acquire: Adult and crossover young adult novellas (up to ~50K words) in the realms of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Would also consider straight plays (theater pieces), graphic novel scripts, and screenplays that we can translate into audio well.

Chapters would be produced as audio episodes, and ideally should be between 3.5 - 4K words long (or 20 - 30 mins listening time).

What I always look for in a manuscript: Dialogue-forward storytelling is key to the audio medium. (Banter is always a plus!)

A vibrant voice, strong emotional core, layered world-building, complex characters, nuanced relationships, and forward-moving plots. My editorial tastes veer toward upmarket commercial fiction with an accessible hook. Stories that can make me cry at least twice and laugh three times are keepers.

Top on my priority list is promoting multicultural narratives with authentic characters that portray experiences from marginalized perspectives—whether they encompass gender, gender presentation, sexuality, race/ethnicity, body type, neurodivergent, socioeconomic class, religious status, or disability. I’m especially interested in supporting marginalized writers.

What I'm currently into:

Science Fiction: Stories that are quirky and upbeat about the near-future, space adventure, cyberpunk, afrofuturism, transhumanism or the singularity, and climate science fiction.  I'm a huge fan of worldbuilding that resonates with sociopolitical conversations. I'd also be interested in mainstream fiction with a speculative edge.  Subjects I will read endlessly about include transhumanism, virtual realities, time travel, the multiverse, climate utopias (as in "We can save the world with science & good politics!"), cyberpunk multinational futures, afrofuturism, and innovative escapist space adventures.

Fantasy: I fall in love with worldbuilding as much as characters, especially fantasy stories that are strongly rooted in history. Strong aesthetics or "city as character" are my weaknesses. Contemporary fantasy, high fantasy, dark fantasy, and fairy-tale-retellings are at the top of my list.  I have a soft spot for Russian-inspired fiction and other non-Western settings.  

Horror: My horror tastes fall under the "small h" rather than "die-hard Horror": literary with a twisted speculative touch, supernatural, occult, gothic, dark sci-fi, new weird, pulp with a modern twist. (Also, Bruce Campbell is a horror genre of his own -- you can fight me on this!)  Any show that reminds me of Gravity Falls, Stranger Things, or Over the Garden Wall will get my attention. Other horror writers I enjoy include Tananarive Due, Stephen Graham Jones, Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, and Amy Lukavics.

Current favorite fiction podcasts:
Horror: Welcome to Nightvale, The White Vault, Old Gods of Appalachia, Realm's Spider King
Fantasy: Two Princes, Realm's Elixir, Realm's Gods & Lies, Realm's Bullet Catcher
Science Fiction: The Edge of Sleep, Tomorrow's Monsters, Steal the Stars, Life//After, Realm's Ctrl-Alt-Destroy
Thriller: Passenger List, Homecoming, Realm's Memory Lane
Musical!: In Strange Woods

Random factoids:

  1. Having lived in Moscow, I have an interest for any premise involving Russian culture.
  2. I'm an independent scholar specializing in performance studies and cultural studies. Recent publications include a book chapter on the performance of racial and national identity in steampunk subculture for Like Clockwork: Steampunk Pasts, Presents, and Futures, and a creative works article about Vietnamese postcolonial theater in Neovictorian Studies.

Submission Guidelines

Vital Info

Editor
Fiction: Action/Adventure, Family Saga, Fantasy, Horror, LGBTQ, Literary, New Adult, Science Fiction, Short Story, Young Adult
Non-Fiction: LGBTQ, Pop Culture, True Crime

Favorite sub-genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Cyberpunk, Historical Fantasy, Steampunk, afrofuturism, alternate history, bamboopunk, dark fantasy, gaslamp fantasy, gothic romance, high-concept science fiction, near-future science fiction, space adventure
I'd like the next...

M. T. Anderson's Feed for the post-Instagram, post-TikTok generation

A queer rendition of Ten Things I Hate about You (make it funny, make it Shakespearean remix. Jane Austen remix will also work!)

Speculative fiction story written like a Serial podcast: long form reporting exploring some weird society-impacting event (like the appearance of a mirror universe).


My favorites include...

Fiction: Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, M.T. Anderson's Feed, Ted Chiang's Story of Your Life, Catherynne Valente's Deathless, N.K. Jemisin's The Inheritance Trilogy, Ekaterina Sedia's Moscow But Dreaming, Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy, Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime & Punishment, Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief, Trung Nguyen's The Magic Fish 

TV Shows: The Good Place, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Kim's Convenience, Mr. Sunshine (the k-drama), Brooklyn 99, Fresh off the Boat, Bob's Burgers, Avatar: The Last Airbender/ Legend of Korra, Gravity Falls, the "CW's DC-verse", What We Do in the Shadows (film & TV show!), Ugly Delicious, Taste the Nation

Anime/Manga: Wolf's Rain, Fullmetal Alchemist, Pandora Hearts, The Ancient Magus' Bride, Blue Exorcist, anything Studio Ghibli

Films: Dogma, Shaolin Soccer, anything from A24

My Upcoming Events:

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